Seeking a safe haven in Colorado’s legal marijuana marketplace, illegal drug traffickers are growing weed in the state’s sanctioned pot warehouses and farms, then covertly shipping it elsewhere and pocketing millions of dollars, say law enforcement officials and court records examined by the Associated Press. The owner of a skydiving business crammed hundreds of pounds of Colorado pot into his planes and flew the weed to Minnesota, where associates allegedly sold it for millions in cash. A Denver man was charged with sending more than 100 pot-filled FedEx packages to drug dealers in Buffalo, N.Y. Twenty other drug traffickers, many from Cuba, were accused of relocating to Colorado to grow marijuana that they sent to Florida, where it can fetch more than double the price in a legal Colorado shop.
The cases confirm a longstanding fear of marijuana opponents that the state’s experiment in legal pot would invite more illegal trafficking to other states where the drug is forbidden. One source is Colorado residents or tourists who buy retail pot and take it out of state. More concerning to authorities are larger-scale traffickers who move here specifically to grow the drug and ship to more lucrative markets. The trend also bolsters the argument of neighboring Nebraska and Oklahoma, which sued in 2014 seeking to declare Colorado’s pot legalization unconstitutional, arguing that the move sent a tide of illicit weed across their borders. The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to reject the suit, saying that the leakage was not Colorado’s fault. No one knows exactly how much pot leaves Colorado.